While many countries are taking pride in their sustainable of “green” building technologies, and LEED certification as we learn from Qatar, Israel may have gotten the upper hand by unveiling what it refers to as a “living building.” It even includes residency for local animals including porcupines.
This new living-with-nature concept was inaugurated on January 26, when the building, known as the Gutman Visitation Center was dedicated by both Israeli government officials and those of the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel (SPNI) , of which the Gutman building is an integral part of.
The building is located in a wooded area of Jerusalem, near the Knesset and Supreme Court buildings. The area in which the Center was built has been favorite location for bird watching, and the SPNI has operated a bird watching and research center there for years.
There are a number of features that make this kind of building concept very unique and different from so-called “green buildings” such as environmentally sustainable projects we have written about on Green Prophet such as Qatar’s National Convention Center, and Abu Dhabi’s Masdar City which integrate renewable energy and environmentally sustainable features into them.
A “living building” on the other hand is not made from dead materials, but is designed to function as its name implies: to be in perfect harmony with the “natural flow of life” around it. In the case of the Gutman Visitation Center, not only is it built mostly from recyclable materials, but it has features that allow it to not only exist harmoniously with nature but to even allow nature, i.e. wildlife, to live in and around and on its premises.
The building has a ‘living roof’ as was noted in the Jerusalem Post:
“The roof is a ‘living roof,’ and not a ‘green roof.’ What is a green roof? It is a roof of plants that require watering. A living roof is comprised of native Middle Eastern flora which bloom according to the seasons and do not require any watering.”
The building’s construction also includes holes and spaces for wildlife to hid in and make homes. Amir Balaban, featured in the article, added that a family of rare porcupines have already moved into a space behind an air conditioning vent.
Living buildings are a concept that appears to be gaining in popularity, especially in natural areas. They incorporate many environmental features that enable them to be in total harmony with nature. As noted in the tenants of the Cascadia Region Green Building Council, in the American Northwest, a living building has to meet the following criteria:
A) It generates all of its own energy with renewable resources,
B) It captures and treats all of its water on site and
C) It uses resources efficiently and for maximum beauty
The Center is located in one of several natural areas in Jerusalem that the SPNI plans to oversee and protect. The idea is to encourage a blend of both natural and developed areas in which both can live in harmony with each other.
Related articles on “green” and “living” buildings:
Vertical Farms May be Only Crop Solution to Middle East
Qatar National Convention Center A Miniature Masdar City